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parents in those days. The little boy and girl studied their lessons and did their tasks dutifully and well. Matilda, or Patty, was, we are told, a demure little lady who wore her hair “done up” and adorned with “ pompons," and was brought up by her mother to work on “samplers” and study housekeeping, and be diligent and quiet and “correct.” Jacky, being a boy, had a little more freedom; but he, too, had to study hard; his step-father, who as we know was one of the best surveyors in America, taught him engineering and military tactics and instilled into the boy that deep love of out-of-door life that was a part of his own nature.
Washington was always inclined to be more “easy ” with his step-children than was their mother; and, before his real duty of “nation-making " called him from his home, he was with them much at Mount Vernon, and tried to act toward them as if they were his own son and daughter. Very often he and Jacky went “a-hunting,” and very often, too, they “ catched a fox” together, as Washington notes in his diary.
Both Jacky and Patty were delicate children. Indeed, the pretty little girl did not live to grow up, but died in 1773, when she was but scarcely seventeen. A letter, yellow with age, is still in existence in which her step-father tells of his grief and sorrow over the loss of “the sweet, innocent girl — dear Patty Custis.” Jacky, however, outgrew his delicate boyhood and lived to have children of his own. He became his step-father's“ aid-de-camp;” and he saddened for George Washington the glorious close of the Revolution ; for he sickened and died at Yorktown just after the surrender of Cornwallis. And when he died, Washington, who had watched over him so carefully and loved him so dearly, threw himself, as we are told, at full length on a couch and wept like a child over the sad and sudden taking off of his “ dear Jacky.”
When Colonel “ Jacky” Custis died he left a widow and four children. And Mount Vernon was so lonely without the young life and gayety that Washington loved, that he begged for two of the children to bring up as his own. Mrs. Custis finally consented, and Washington adopted a girl and a boy - Eleanor Parke Custis, two and a half years old, and George Washington Parke Custis aged six months.
These children were brought up at beautiful Mount Vernon, as their father and his sister had been before them; and, even to-day, “ Nellie Custis ” — the bright, charming, wilful and loving girl of Mount Vernon — is an everpresent memory as the visitor walks through the rooms of that historic house. She was “the general's " pet and pride, his companion in ride and walk, his ardent admirer as he was hers, and the one who, by witty or saucy remark, could set a-laughing the man who, his critics declared, was never
known to laugh. Her room at Mount Vernon is still shown to visitors, her “ harpsichord,” or old-fashioned piano, for which the general paid a thousand dollars and presented to her, is there too, and about the old mansion linger many traditions of the good times “ Miss Nellie” and her brother “ Tut” had when they were the children of Mount Vernon in the days after the Revolution. It swarmed with visitors then, and was full of life and gayety Its stables and its